June 20, 2007

San Francisco, CA

TAO Cafe ~ 1000 Guerrero, Tel : 415 641 9955

I have driven by TAO on a daily basis for the past 5 years, but have never eaten there. Last night we wanted to meet our friend B for dinner somewhere casual, reasonable and good, where we could focus on catching up. In all honesty my moment of excitement was crushed when B said he was not really that impressed with TAO but that he would go along as company was more important. I arrived with low expectations at this point. The spot is really nice and very cozy – dimly light with soft yellow colored walls it really warms up the atmosphere. I loved the round tables with high backed straw chairs - not only great looking but very comfortable. As well you can't beat listening to Serge Gainsbourg in the background. The wait staff was very friendly as well as funny - always making these subtle little jokes during conversations. We started with the crab wontons - they were served on a bed of shredded carrots with a slightly spicy sauce. They were crispy on the outside and warm and flavorful on the inside - in all honesty, L loved them more than I did but they were tasty, I just was not in love with them. For our entrees, I ordered the Veggie Spicy Garlic noodles with zucchini, bell pepper, eggplant, tomato & onion, L ordered the Lemongrass-crusted bass fillet, plantain banana, light curry sauce with white rice and B ordered the Spicy Fresh rolls of grilled beef with lemongrass, ginger & green onion with tamarind sauce. I loved my noodle dish - spicy but not overwhelming, the veggies were still slightly crunchy and the garlic and chili sauce was bursting with flavor - I was very happy. L's dish of Lemongrass-crusted bass was outstanding as well. The fish was little fried, but not oily at all, a little crunchy on the outside and very moist and flaky on the instead and lightly seasoned the yellow curry sauce served with it was really delicious and brought out the flavor of the fish very well. The Plantain banana served on the side was a nice sweet surprise - sort of like dessert with dinner! B's dish - well, he did not share, he said it was okay and I think he just really wanted to eat somewhere else. We did not have dessert but they do offer anything from ice cream to tarts - something for everyone! I give it a 5 fork rating for pleasant atmosphere, friendly wait staff and an outstanding meal full of wonderful Vietnamese flavors with a French flair! Definitely a nice addition to our neighborhood meal picks!

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